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If you’ve been on the Internet recently, you’ve probably come across the term “VPN”. You might have even been told to get one for your own good.
Whether it’s because VPNs let you download certain content and ignore geographic restrictions, or because VPNs ostensibly provide you with greater security, more and more people are recommending VPNs for everyone, not just tech-gurus.
But what exactly are VPNs, and why should you use one? Let’s break down everything you need to know about VPN use and explore why you should consider using a VPN soon.
What Is a VPN, Anyway?
Brief Introduction 🏁
VPN stands for “virtual private network”, and that’s exactly what creates. When you use a VPN service, you benefit from a secure tunnel that connects your computer to another server through the Internet.
Your computer then accesses the rest of the Internet through this "extra" server, effectively confusing anyone who tries to track you while masking your original IP address.
How Can You Use VPN
A VPN can connect your PC or another device to a server other than your home server, which is usually the server geographically closest to your machine
You then browse the Internet via top secure browsers while using that additional server, which can be in another city, or even another country
Because your network traffic is rerouted through this new server, you might benefit from a number of advantages or extra privileges that you would have been locked out of due to your geographic location or other aspects of your original IP address.
How Does a VPN Work?
Technical Guide! 🖥️
Let’s get a little more technical. In order to understand what does a VPN hide you need to to know that whenever you connect your computer to a VPN service, your computer will behave like it’s on the same network as the VPN itself.
Therefore, any network traffic that is sent to your computer is first sent over a secure connection to the VPN. The traffic then reaches your computer after traveling through the VPN like a kind of digital tunnel.
Additional Access Through a New IP Address
By using a VPN, your computer or device benefits from a new IP address, granting you additional access or privileges compared to your regular IP address. In other words, you can use the Internet like you are present at the VPN server’s location.
All VPN servers are encrypted, so any traffic sent from your device is also encrypted. This is the main reason why you should always use a top VPN.
While using a VPN provides you with additional benefits, the extra security and masked IP address combined provide you with greater average security compared to if you accessed the Internet regularly.
Here’s a basic example:
- Say that you live in Russia but want to access US Netflix to see a favorite show
- You can use a VPN service and select a secure server based in the US
- Once connected, you can access the Internet as if you are from the US
- Since your computer will ping servers across the Internet with a US IP address
- Then, when you log into Netflix, you’ll gain access to all US content, including any content that would have been blocked were you to try to access Netflix in Russia
Benefits of VPN
Anyone trying to track your IP address will instead be routed to the VPN server you’re accessing the Internet from.
While it is still possible to tunnel through and get your true IP address, it’s much harder.
Since it’s more difficult to find your IP address, it’s harder for cybercriminals to access your personal information or attack you in other ways.
Furthermore, it’s doubly difficult for anyone, including government officials, to spy on your activities since, again, any trackers they place will be routed to be secured VPN server rather than your actual home computer or device.
Why Else Should You Use a VPN?
Privacy on the Internet! 🛡️
Aside from the above-mentioned security benefits, VPN usage can provide you with a number of other advantages.
Secure Business Networking
VPN use is being increasingly normalized throughout the business world and for good reason. That’s because you can use a VPN to access your business network, including any local network resources, even while you are connected to public Wi-Fi. But by using a VPN, you don’t put your business’s network or your computer at risk.
Any website you visit that isn’t marked with HTTPS is insecure, and should be moved from http to https instantly. Therefore, other people can snoop and look at your browsing activity with relative ease if they know what they’re doing.
By connecting to a VPN, you can hide your browsing traffic from your local network and even your Internet service provider. This, in turn, provides additional benefits, such as hiding your browsing history and preventing anyone from knowing what you’re looking up.
As we touched on above, VPNs allow you to bypass various censorship laws that may be in place in your home country. For example, Chinese people often use VPNs to get around China’s “Great Firewall” and access unfiltered Internet websites, in addition to outlawed media content.
You can also use a VPN to get access to media that isn’t censored but may no longer be available in your region due to copyright or other licensing agreements. One good example is if your streaming service recently removed a favorite show and you want to watch it from another digital location.
You may also want to use a VPN to download files using BitTorrent and other torrenting services. Many Internet service providers throttle torrents and make it hard to download the media or files you want. VPN use could grant you faster speeds.
End of the Road 🛣️
All in all, there are lots of reasons to use a VPN whenever you access the Internet, not just for times when you need extra security. There’s no real reason not to use a VPN, so it might be a good idea to start looking at VPN service providers and examining your options.
Ultimately, better security and freer Internet access for everyone is something we should all strive for every day. Through VPN usage, you’ll be one step closer to unfiltered, unregulated Internet access.